Stress. It’s a 6 letter, one syllable word. Books and articles have been written about it. At least once a day I hear some say “I am so stressed!” My life has been extremely stressful the last 120 days, so stressful at times that my productivity has been paralyzed. As I try to jump start my life, I decided to dedicate my blog this week to writing about stress and how it affects your life.
I feel that I have always been able to handle the stress placed upon me. Like many, I wear several different hats and those hats pull in many different directions during the course of a day. For the most part, everyone experiences stress and anxiety in their lives. It can range from demands from a job, crazy sports schedules with your children, or worrying about how to make a paycheck stretch from one month to the next. Stress can be caused by life changes – moving, marriage, having a baby, changing jobs, deadlines, illness, divorce, and death. How we deal with the stress makes all of the difference in our health and happiness.
“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” Lee Iacocca
I know when stress is starting to overwhelm me. I isolate myself from those I am close to. It would be really easy to lock myself in my house and never leave. My home is my sanctuary, where I feel safe and protected from all of the craziness of life. Thankfully, I’ve been married to a wonderful man for almost 32 years and while he is always happy to make sure I have a day to myself, he also encourages me to get out among my friends and clients and will sit and talk about what is bothering me. Often times, it’s not as bad as I’ve imagined in my mind.
What are some signs of too much stress? Everyone experiences stress differently, and some common physical symptoms include muscle tension and headaches, fatigue, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, stomachache, increased heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. What is important is that you learn to recognize how your body responds to stressful situations and ways to work through them before stress manifests itself into health-related issues such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure.
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.” Hans Selye
What are ways to deal with stress? It would be easy to binge on donuts, spend the day sleeping, or Netflix binging. For me, if my husband comes home and there is a freshly baked delightfully sinful dessert, then he can probably figure out pretty quickly that I’ve had a stressful day. I love to bake and can lose myself in the kitchen if I need to tune out the world for a bit. Healthier ways to alleviate stress can be exercising, limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, making sure that you balance your schedule and make time for hobbies, time with friends and meditating. You may just need a weekend getaway with your spouse to a fun, exciting destination. It is also important to make sure that you incorporate a healthy, balanced diet and sign up for a class that will allow you to push your stress away such as martial arts, Zumba, boxing or a painting class. You may find that a weekly massage will help you relax and handle your stress.
If you’ve made a conscious effort to help yourself deal with stress and you are still overwhelmed, do not hesitate to call your primary caregiver and ask for a referral to a therapist who will listen to you and teach you ways to help manage your stress. You may also need medication for a short time to get you through.
My challenge for you this week is the following:
If you’ve been feeling stressed or anxious, try to figure out the cause. Is it something you can change? Instead of opening a gallon of ice cream, write down your feelings, go for a walk, or work on one of your hobbies. Make a conscious effort to eliminate the junk from your diet, limit your alcohol and caffeine, and spend time with your tribe – your friends, colleagues and business associates. They are in your life for a reason. Grow those relationships so that you can lean on each other during difficult times, and grow stronger together.